Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Interested in writing music for the Liturgy?
Talk about it here!

Moderator: PaulW

User avatar
mcb
Posts: 867
Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2003 5:39 pm
Parish / Diocese: St John's Cathedral, Salford
Location: Salford
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by mcb » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:08 am

nazard wrote:I have never thought about the purpose of liturgy. Without a stated purpose it is difficult to say what is and is not suitable. I normally reject music because it is too difficult, too banal, the words are vacuous or heretical or the musical style is sufficiently extreme so as to upset a proportion of the congregation. Occasionally I do not use a piece of music because the words and the music convey contradictory ideas, e.g. the Anderson clapping Gloria, which sets the words "Have mercy on us all" to a tune which suggests jollity. A good statement of the purpose of liturgy would be helpful and might take this thread somewhere useful. Does anyone know of a good document, preferably online, and preferably an official church document, which would explain the purpose of liturgy?

I'm sure you know it well, Nazard, but others might benefit from being pointed towards Sacrosanctum Concilium which, you might say, is the document you describe. The paragraphs numbered 5 to 11 are especially powerful.

User avatar
musicus
Moderator
Posts: 1605
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2003 8:47 am
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by musicus » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:50 am

mcb wrote:I'm sure you know it well, Nazard, but others might benefit from being pointed towards Sacrosanctum Concilium which, you might say, is the document you describe. The paragraphs numbered 5 to 11 are especially powerful.

This is indeed the classic 'definition'. Almost every phrase deserves careful study.
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
blog

User avatar
Gwyn
Posts: 1122
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2003 3:42 pm
Parish / Diocese: Archdiocese of Cardiff
Location: Abertillery, South Wales UK

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Gwyn » Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:30 am

Nazard
singing "Have mercy on us all" to a tune which suggests jollity.


Couldn't agree more as regards the Clapping Gloria and other such pieces. I personally feel that there are times in the liturgical year when it is perhaps fitting to rejoice in God's abundent mercy, even in a jolly way. - - - Just a thought.

It's a good thread is this. Very informative contributions from all.

Gwyn.

User avatar
Nick Baty
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:27 am
Parish / Diocese: Everton, Liverpool
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:16 pm

mcb wrote:The paragraphs numbered 5 to 11 are especially powerful.
And, in response to Nazard's question, Par 11 is particularly interesting.

nazard
Posts: 539
Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2006 7:08 am
Parish / Diocese: Clifton
Location: Muddiest Somerset

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by nazard » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:22 pm

Thank you all. I have read Sancrosanctum Concilium many times: indeed it is one of the documents I have been accused of producing tampered versions. In recent years, I confess, I have not read it as often as I should. As you point out, Nick, paragraph 11 is of the greatest importance.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 11 wrote:But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain [28] . Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.


I have always taken this to mean that we should not just go through the motions of liturgy, starting and the beginning and churning away to the end, but that we should "ponder these things in our hearts" as we go. On the other hand, I don't think it is an invitation to depart from the rubrics, particularly in the light of

Sacrosanctum Concilium paragraph 22.3 wrote:Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.


I therefore try to provide music which obeys any rules I am aware of which appertain and which conveys the meaning which I believe is attached to that part of the liturgy. Am I doing anything wrong?

User avatar
mcb
Posts: 867
Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2003 5:39 pm
Parish / Diocese: St John's Cathedral, Salford
Location: Salford
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by mcb » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:11 pm

nazard wrote:
Sacrosanctum Concilium paragraph 22.3 wrote:Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

I think Pope Benedict's approach is instructive. Writing before he was pope, he argued strongly in favour of the possibility of a choral Sanctus, in spite of the fact that the 'law' could not be clearer:
GIRM 79 wrote:the whole congregation, joining with the heavenly powers, sings the Sanctus.

What was going on here? I can think of three explanations:

  • He was unaware of the rubric set out in GIRM. (Unlikely)
  • He knew he was going to be pope so felt he had some oracular status that superseded GIRM 79 and SC 22.3. (Implausible)
  • He was arguing that specific 'laws' can be adapted or set aside, according to circumstance: in the cause of beauty, say, or in order to conserve an aspect of tradition, even when this does not confirm to the Church's present-day understanding.
If the third interpretation is the correct one, then two things follow inexorably: a flexible approach to seemingly rigid rubrics is not merely tolerated but actually desirable; and there is scope for an ongoing mature and intelligent discussion of the bases for practice which might depart from the rubrics.

AntoineDaniel
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:08 pm
Parish / Diocese: St. Patrick Parish
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by AntoineDaniel » Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:43 am

Hello!

I wouldn't take this too seriously, Antoine. It's quoting parts of documents rather than the whole.


If they had quoted entire documents, the video would have run on for hours and hours.

The presenter quotes from Pius X's Tra le Sollecitudini which forbids wind instruments at Mass.


Actually, wind instruments are permitted by Pius X, with the permission of the Ordinary.

Pius X's documents are important, although more modern legislation also needs to be taken into consideration. That's why the vast majority of the quotes in the video are from around the time of Vatican II or later. I don't think the video quotes from Pius X.

The same document prohibits women from singing in choirs – to follow that would see end an to many church choirs here in the UK.


Again, I'm not sure the video quoted Pius X's document. They quoted John Paul II's Chirograph, which takes many quotes from Saint Pius X.

Furthermore, Pope Pius XII allowed women to sing in choirs, so this rule no longer applies (to the dismay of some "traditionalists").

Pius X was calling for the people to be allowed to sing again "as they did in former times", a clause usually ignored by one or two cathedral musicians I can think of who seek to promote choral music over the song of the assembly.


I'm not convinced it's an "either or" situation. It's a "both and," if you know what I mean.

Here is the video, for those who missed it: http://www.ccwatershed.org/video/10686215/?return_url=/projects/
St. Antoine Daniel, pray for us!

docmattc
Posts: 987
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 11:42 am
Parish / Diocese: Westminster
Location: Near Cambridge

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by docmattc » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:22 am

The video begins by asserting the hypothesis "Its not very hard to tell the difference between music that is appropriate for Mass and music that is not". I would suggest that the very fact that the video, and indeed this thread, exist demonstrates that the hypothesis is false. Its clear that the purpose of the video is to persuade people who use music which is, in the author's interpreation of the douments, inappropriate, that they are wrong.

It is more likely that the original hypothesis is true for a given individual, but the borderline between appropriate and inappropriate lies in different places for different people.

While the church may have "Clearly laid things out for us", its actually obvious that it has laid them out with an awful lot of room for interpretation.

Take for instance the quote: "if music - instrumental and vocal - does not possess at the same time the sense of prayer, dignity and beauty, it precludes the entry into the sphere of the sacred and the religious." I would say that much Taize music is prayerful, dignified and beautiful, therefore to be admitted into the sphere of te sacred, but others here have dismissed it at least one such piece as "Broadway Tune", so precluding its entry.

User avatar
Nick Baty
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:27 am
Parish / Diocese: Everton, Liverpool
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:29 am

AntoineDaniel wrote:
Pius X was calling for the people to be allowed to sing again "as they did in former times", a clause usually ignored by one or two cathedral musicians I can think of who seek to promote choral music over the song of the assembly.

I'm not convinced it's an "either or" situation. It's a "both and," if you know what I mean.

We're obviously thinking of different cathedral musicians! :wink:

nazard
Posts: 539
Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2006 7:08 am
Parish / Diocese: Clifton
Location: Muddiest Somerset

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by nazard » Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:10 pm

Thank you all for your helpful comments. The position we seem to be in is that we have a plethora of rules which contradict one another and which there exists precedent from the highest places for ignoring when it is beneficial to do so. None of this is contributing to my problem of being asked to play music which the requester assures me is "so prayerful" but I find to be the exact opposite. I do play a little of such things and other parishioners then moan at me about it. What I really need is some guide to "good catholic taste". In some quarters, a "white list" is proposed, less fashionable is a black list. Either might help a little, but either could upset me personally if they prevent me from playing what I like or make me play something I deplore. The effect of the last forty years has been to bring into use a wide variety of styles, and everyone seems to think that it is vital that their favourite is what is used. I feel we have come to treat mass as entertainment, which is harmful to our spiritual life.

User avatar
Nick Baty
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:27 am
Parish / Diocese: Everton, Liverpool
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:36 pm

If I'm asked for something inappropriate, I (kindly, I hope) point out that the music we use is based primarily on the day's Gospel. Can often lead to a constructive conversation.

I still think a good guide to the rules is the leaflet, Singing the Mass, produced by the bishops, in the back of Laudate and here: http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resourc ... nging.html It doesn't explain all the whys and wherefores, but it does make you think.

AntoineDaniel
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:08 pm
Parish / Diocese: St. Patrick Parish
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by AntoineDaniel » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:15 pm

I would say that much Taize music is prayerful, dignified and beautiful, therefore to be admitted into the sphere of te sacred, but others here have dismissed it at least one such piece as "Broadway Tune", so precluding its entry.


As a music theorist, I really don't see how any of the Taize music I've heard could be considered "Broadway."

That being said, I could see the case being made that it's kind of a goofy, simplistic parody of Baroque music.

However, some of my own music is far from perfect ... especially my earlier works ... so I need to be very careful here ... (!)
St. Antoine Daniel, pray for us!

alan29
Posts: 1062
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 8:04 pm
Location: Wirral

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by alan29 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:57 pm

Isn't appropriateness a culturally based concept? What would be totally excellent in Caracas, Madras or Pretoria might not seem so apt in Llanberis or Buddleigh Salterton. And what is appropriate at Westminster Cathedral would be worse than inappropriate in our parish where any attempt to sing a Palestrina's Missa Tu Es Petrus would be a parody in every possible sense!

User avatar
Nick Baty
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:27 am
Parish / Diocese: Everton, Liverpool
Contact:

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by Nick Baty » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:13 pm

alan29 wrote:And what is appropriate at Westminster Cathedral...
should surely be appropriate to us all!
:wink:

alan29
Posts: 1062
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 8:04 pm
Location: Wirral

Re: Liturgically Inappropriate Music

Post by alan29 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:15 pm

Nick Baty wrote:
alan29 wrote:And what is appropriate at Westminster Cathedral...
should surely be appropriate to us all!
:wink:

Goes without saying!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest